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Without bravado, I want to thank God, and my friends, human and otherwise, and family, that I made it through.

So many didn't.

If I have one thing I am proud of this year, it is two things - tied - having written some poems that may last about our current world (they likely won't) - and keeping the Black spring press group alive and going for one more year - thereby keeping dozens of writers and books in print, and assisting designers, editors, proofreaders, printers, writers, and others, to make some money to feed their families in very uncertain times.

I'd note the sad deaths of Roddy Lumsden, and Leah Fritz, friends and poets, at the start of the year; and also note how so many icons of my youth, from Diana Rigg to Sean Connery, also died this year; up to the recent awful news about Pierre Cardin, and  Jean Valentine, which I heard today.

The books I commissioned and published this year were meant to celebrate frontline workers, champion freedom of expression, and extend the press into reclaiming classics and striking out in new directions, with genres like thrillers and crime.

It is, on the whole, good news there was a 'Brexit trade deal'; because we can moan or try to salvage what debris is left us on the isolated beach after the wreck of the good ship Europa, I do hope we manage in the UK, though I expect England to be going it alone by 2030, with Wales and Scotland EU member states.

Covid-19 made 2020 apparently the worst year of the 21st century, and one of the darkest in 75 years. By year's end tomorrow, almost 2 million will have died, worldwide, with almost 100 million infected so far. 2021 is a bridge yar to better times, but we can expect no genuine 'normalcy' until 2022 or 2023, when the whole world has been vaccinated, if all goes well, and new variants do not throw us off our goals.

Thanks to science, and the rational God that allows science to develop, humanity has defeated, almost, another disease, a disease that may have arisen due to human failings, of governance.

The future crises for this century seem to come from ourselves - how will humans save or ruin the planet, husband their resources, and fight to defend freedoms, hard won in the 1940s? Racial hatred, ignorance and cruelty seem endemic to our species, as well as sometime kindness and leaps of genius. We are tragic. There are a few nations on the planet who would not welcome the West 'doing better' and seek the downfall of the Athenian dream.

There is a nasty myth that the 1968-9 Hong kong Flu was 'just as bad' as this year's pandemic, but did not require any lockdowns; that we are soft and unwise and merely panicked.

That is false. the HK flu killed one million worldwide, but with today's medical advancements, that may have been 50,000 or less. On the contrary, had Covid-19 occured back then, we might have expected 20 million or more global deaths. Covid is 20 times more deadly than the influenza virus; we are fortunate it struck when our science was nearly equal to the challenge.

One day, the medical advances of 2020 may cure the common cold, other flus, and lead to cures for other conditions, and an ironic and surprising revaluation of the times may decide that some died to advance the world's health exponentially.

I have gone on too much.

One thing, a little aside - Netflix and Amazon should be taxed a one-off 20% of their global revenue in 2020 to help cover the costs for the rest of society of shutting down and treating the sick. This won't happen.


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When you open your mouth to speak, are you smart?  A funny question from a great song, but also, a good one, when it comes to poets, and poetry. We tend to have a very ambiguous view of intelligence in poetry, one that I'd say is dysfunctional.  Basically, it goes like this: once you are safely dead, it no longer matters how smart you were.  For instance, Auden was smarter than Yeats , but most would still say Yeats is the finer poet; Eliot is clearly highly intelligent, but how much of Larkin 's work required a high IQ?  Meanwhile, poets while alive tend to be celebrated if they are deemed intelligent: Anne Carson, Geoffrey Hill , and Jorie Graham , are all, clearly, very intelligent people, aside from their work as poets.  But who reads Marianne Moore now, or Robert Lowell , smart poets? Or, Pound ?  How smart could Pound be with his madcap views? Less intelligent poets are often more popular.  John Betjeman was not a very smart poet, per se.  What do I mean by smart?